Probiotics play an important role in the world of food. These foods contain live bacteria. When we hear the word bacteria, we tend to cringe considering that bacteria are harmful and unhealthy. But not all of them. There are many bacterial species that live in human body and are beneficial for health. Probiotics are those bacteria that are beneficial for controlling the activities of the organs in the human body.
The helpful bacteria present in the digestive tract help in reducing the gas problems, maintain the cholesterol levels and also in boosting the immune system. These probiotics benefits make us sit up and know what are probiotics, how do these good angels of health act in our body.
What are Probiotics?
The word probiotic comes from the Greek word ‘pro’ means promoting and ‘biotic’ means life. These little helpful bacteria present in the gut are nowadays in the list of recommended foods and have been a mandatory addition among the health conscious. Our normal human digestive tract contains over 400 types of probiotics that are helpful in digestion and also in lowering the number of harmful bacteria.Our gut flora contains a balance of good and harmful bacteria, as in 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. If this balance goes off, then a condition called dysbiosis occurs in which there is excessive fungus, yeast or bacteria in our body that can affect us in a negative way. Hence consuming certain types of foods or probiotics can bring the balance to normal.
The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is the lactic acid bacteria and Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the significant bacteria present in the mouth, vagina and intestine.
So much is being told about probiotics in terms of being beneficial and helpful; we should know the effects of probiotics benefits.
Coming to know about the probiotics benefits, it is mandatory to add probiotics in our regular diet. The addition should be done gradually and then can be slowly increased. There are many probiotic foods and supplements available in markets in packaged form. But why go for artificial probiotic foods when you can get it naturally? Hence let us know the natural foods that are rich in probiotics.
Probiotic foods that are available are.
Yogurt is one of the best probiotic foods that contain friendly bacteria that can improve our health. It is made from milk which is cultured with bacteria like lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Yogurt is better than milk especially for those having lactose intolerance as the bacteria converts the lactose in milk to lactic acid. Yogurt helps to keep a healthy balance in your gut. It acts against the gas formation, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. But make sure that you select the yogurt with live and active culture. Watch out for yogurts that have added sugar and syrups.
If you feel the only yogurt is the sole option for probiotics, then you need to think again. Another probiotic food called sauerkraut has been hitting the market positively. Sauerkraut is the fermented form of shredded cabbage and salt with fewer amounts of seasonings. It is allowed to ferment slowly and naturally without any starters for two weeks and more. The fermentation of cabbage allows the formation of lactic acid which gives a sour taste to the food. Sauerkraut gives an acidic tinge to the food when added as a topping on the hot dogs or consumed with other foods. Sauerkraut is a good source of Vitamin C and other digestive enzymes. The bacteria present in sauerkraut are pneumococcus and lactobacillus. It is good against gastrointestinal conditions like constipation and diarrhea and is flu preventive beverage.
3. Dark Chocolate
You would be pleasantly surprised to know that a bar of organic, dark chocolate has a number of health benefits. It promotes a healthier gut microbial environment. The friendly gut bacteria break down and ferment the dark chocolate compounds creating anti-inflammatory benefits. However, that doesn’t mean that we can gorge royally on chocolates thinking it’s a healthy food. It is, of course, a caloric dessert. Prefer dark chocolate made of 70% or more of cocoa. It should be free of high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners or GMO. Go organic, get the dark bar.
Miso is a seasoning in Asian region which is prepared by fermenting a mixture of soybean, barley, brown rice and other grains with Aspergillus Oryza. This results in a smooth textured paste with a strong and salty flavor. It is beneficial as probiotic as it adds beneficial microorganisms into the intestinal flora thus supporting digestion. Miso paste also helps in treating diarrhea and other intestinal infections. Miso filled with probiotics is used to make soups that are low in calories and rich in B vitamins. To use miso paste, you can also use it as spread on the crackers or on the corn in cobs instead of salt and butter. However, the high salt content in miso needs to be kept in mind before adding into the soups or spread. To preserve the live microorganisms of the miso paste, do add the paste after the food is already heated or cooked.
In the scenario of probiotics benefits, kefir has been gaining popularity and has been recognized as a stronger version than yogurt. Kefir is unsweetened and unflavored drinkable yogurt style prepared by fermenting cow’s milk or goat’s milk with kefir grains composed of bacteria, yeast, and polysaccharides. Kefir is better than the probiotic supplements; it contains about 1.5 trillions of beneficial bacteria. It harmonizes the beneficial bacteria in our body by canceling out the antibiotic attack. It is loaded with nutrients and definitely consumed by lactose intolerants.
Kombucha is a fermented beverage of black tea and sugar which is fermented by bacteria and yeast known as “SCOBY” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha boosts the immune system and energy levels. The ability of kombucha to detox the body produces healthy liver and helps in cancer prevention. Kombucha contains glucosamine which helps in relieving arthritic pain and preserves the cartilage tissues.
Thus probiotics available in natural ingredients are always beneficial for our wellbeing. Hence don’t cringe when you hear the word bacteria, not all bacteria is bad or harmful.